There is a point of no return in the plot when we, the audience, become so immersed in the protagonist’s crusade for a better tomorrow that we are cheering and stomping our feet in encouragement for that bright sunshine-drenched tomorrow of which Sahir Ludhianvi dreamt in Pyaasa and Phir Subah Hogi.
Our protagonist Madhav’s battle is not really reformatory in the way the great heroes of our times meant it to be. In Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Satyakam, when the protagonist Dharmendra marries the rape victim, he does it with the least amount of self-congratulations. In Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Akshay Kumar’s mission to build a toilet for his wife is compared with Shah Jahan building the Taj Mahal for his wife.
I wonder who should feel more affronted by such flamboyant self-glorification: Moghul history or Modi politics. Either way, there are too many self-congratulations and heroic hurrahs playing at the foreground of this eventful drama, accompanied by an over-punctuated background score.
Akshay Kumar means business. This film is not so much a vehicle to promote the Prime Minister’s Swachh Bharat campaign as to promote Akshay Kumar, period. He milks the film for all his trademark chuckles and giggles, making Madhav seem like a Basu Chatterjee hero with a certain sly and smooth sinewiness to his heroism.
It is debutant director Shree Narayan Singh who proves you don’t need extra sinewiness to shine in every frame. He is the Basu Chatterjee and Hrishikesh Mukherjee of our times. He makes hygiene and sanitation seem humorous without trivialising or tempering the issue. The sorority evidenced among the village women as they troop off in the morning for nature’s call is captured with a respectful laugh.